Last week, I got one of those Amazon emails that draw your attention to some special feature or offer they have. In this instance, they were asking for people to view and review their new comedy tv show pilots, and since it was free I thought, why not? So, over a few days, I took the time to look at the eight pilots, and gave my opinion on seven of them. I'll now take a moment to go over my impression of each proposed series.
Before giving my assessments, I will say that I am very surprised that every single pilot has received more 5-star reviews than non-5-star reviews. Even the best of these shows only rated 4 stars in my book, and I honestly can't tell what people are basing their votes on. Are they really that easily entertained, that they think this stuff is the best of the best? Or are they just so eager to pump up a few select shows that they're inflating their vote? I think the latter is probably true.
Also, note that most of these shows have a lot of cursing in them. It seems the writers went wild with f-bombs and the like, since these aren't on the air yet. If any of these shows went on network tv, they'd just edit that out, I guess. You have been warned.
Now, on with my three cents worth on each of the series.
Alpha House: This one was weak satire, which did little more than make fun of Republicans. The humor wasn't my cup of tea, and I think a more balanced approach would have made this a more promising pilot. I could see this running half a season (at most), but by then even the Bill Maher fans will get bored with the clichéd jokes and stereotyped characters. John Goodman's renown would be the only thing that could make this thing stay afloat for more than a few episodes. A 2-star effort.
Betas: A comedy for computer geeks. The humor in this one was more subtle and serious. To be fair, this show seems more suited to being a 1-hour drama program, rather than a comedy. The first ten minutes or so were very dull for me, but after that it really picked up, and I started to get a fondness for the characters (except that mid 30's washed-up stoner guy). This also has a brief shot of a naked lady in it, but the stoner guy was just chatting to some online hooker, so I guess that's okay (not). I think if this was expanded to the hour (aka 40-45 minute) format, we'd have more time for character development, and thus the show would be able to flourish. 3-stars, with room to grow.
Browsers: Comedy + musical? This is the one show I couldn't get through. The musical numbers just threw me off, and prevented me from enjoying the show. It's a novel idea, but I wouldn't watch it. No star-rating given, since I couldn't even get through the show to review the whole episode.
Dark Minions: An animated comedy which was only half made. They use that stop-motion animation technique, and I guess the creators didn't want to waste time making an entire episode until they had a contract for a full series. However, what's there is intriguing. It's a sci-fi comedy that could devolve into the next Futurama, or flourish as an animated cross between Family Guy and Red Dwarf, with some Douglas Adams thrown in. In its present form, it seems a bit juvenile, and the drug usage is a little stupid. (I never got the idea of dope in space, how is that funny?) The characters were a bit two-dimensional. 3-stars.
Onion News Empire: A parody of the mainstream media, this one was fair and balanced. There are some really funny moments, and bit of character development, and a few really outrageous elements tossed in. Of all the Amazon pilots, this one felt the most professional, in my opinion. It also had a lot of really good talent, most notable in my book being William Sadler (is he really that fat these days, or is that just a costume?). I gave this one 4-stars.
Supanatural: This one is a parody of the supernatural/horror/Ancient Aliens genre. The main characters really grated on my nerves; a couple of divas with bad attitudes who work in a mall and on the side save the world from the paranormal. The storyline was amusing, and the evil doomsday skull really stole the show. If they spent some time making the ladies more likeable, this could fit in with the growing number of adult animated series, but in its present form it only rates 3-stars.
Those Who Can't: A cynical comedy about High School teachers, which has a bit more truth than fiction to it. Yes, there are obvious exaggerations, and the comedy is sometimes over the top, but it is almost believable at times. The hippy-like principal is a nice touch, as well. I give this one a 4-star rating, it being my 2nd favorite of the bunch.
Zombieland: The series picks up where the movie left off, only with a new cast and less humor. This felt like a really weak attempt to recreate something that has already been done, and it gets old really fast. When it comes down to it, this just wasn't all that funny, and it has nowhere to go but down. Zombies just aren't funny enough to sustain an entire series. That, and the new actors can't compete with the big-name movie stars who defined their roles (really, who could ever replace Woody Harrelson?). A weak 2-stars. I almost want my half hour back for watching this one. Unless you're a die-hard zombie fan, don't waste your time here.
Okay, so that pretty much sums it up. Amazon also has five kid show pilots, but I didn't watch those, since I'm not really into that stuff (even though I have 4 young children). Now it's your turn. Go over to Amazon and watch a few of the shows there. See what you think.